Kavita Isvaran

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Associate Professor
Name: Kavita Isvaran
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences
Research Areas: 
Behaviour, Ecology, Evolution
Ecology and evolution of behaviour and life histories, Applying approaches from behavioural ecology and evolution towards conservation

Animals display a bewildering diversity of solutions to similar problems, such as, how to attract mates, whom to mate with, how many offspring to have, and how much resources to allocate to each offspring. I am interested in understanding the ecology and evolution for such diversity in behaviour and life history traits, particularly in social and reproductive traits. Our research is largely with wild populations. Current work focuses on (a) the dynamics of male and female mating strategies in the blackbuck antelope, a species with unusually variable social and reproductive behaviour; and (b) reproductive strategies, sexual selection, and animal personalities in a rock lizard. While detailed studies of individual populations allow us to dissect ecological and evolutionary processes thoroughly, I am also interested in investigating the generality of such processes in nature. To this end, we use phylogenetic comparative methods with interspecific data extracted from the published literature, to investigate patterns of sexual selection across mammals and how this variation relates to ecological conditions, behaviour and sex-differences in life history and morphological traits. I am also interested in the consequences of evolved traits for populations and communities and in applying approaches from behavioural ecology and evolution towards conservation. Our research in these areas include (a) decision-making by endangered antelope in fragmented grasslands and their consequences for conflict with agriculturalists; (b) the adaptiveness of egg-laying behaviour in mosquitoes and their consequences for population dynamics; and (c) mechanisms by which invasive plants influence native butterfly communities.

Selected Publications: 

Velho N., Isvaran K., Datta A. 2012 Rodent seed predation: effects on seed survival, recruitment, abundance and dispersion of bird-dispersed tropical trees. Oecologia 169:995-1004. Velho N., Datta A., Isvaran K. 2009 Effect of rodents on seed fate of tree species in a tropical forest in north-east India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 25:507–514. Karnad D., Isvaran K., Kar C.S., Shanker K. 2009 Lighting the way: Reducing misorientation of olive ridley hatchlings due to artificial lighting at Rushikulya, India. Biological Conservation 142: 2083-2088. Isvaran K. 2007. Intraspecific variation in group size in the blackbuck antelope: the roles of habitat structure and forage at different spatial scales. Oecologia 154:435–444. Isvaran K., Clutton-Brock T.H. 2007. The ecological correlates of extra-group paternity in mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 274:219–224. Clutton-Brock T.H., Isvaran K. 2007. Sex differences in ageing in natural populations of vertebrates. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 274:3097–3104.